First a disclaimer, I'm not much into 'diets', so today's topic: Spring and nature's invitation to cleanse is a challenging one for me. Which is to say if you, like me, love food and the thought of depriving yourself the pleasure of fine food is enough to have you switching off already, relax, its going to be ok, I'm on your side. What we're exploring today is a way to tap into more energy than you currently have. How about if you could do that in a way that doesn't involve anything too demanding, wouldn't that make life easier?
In my 20's I explored a number of interesting approaches to eating, from macrobiotic (including periods of fasting by eating only brown rice and water) to being vegan (anyone for tofu 'cheesecake') and have more recently tried various Yogic cleansing rituals which involve using copious amounts of salt water in ways that are not for the faint hearted! I'd like to think that my adventures and mishaps helped me reach the more mellowed approach I advocate today.
To get us started lets talk about why and how to cleanse and why now is the time of the year to do it. To understand why we need to explore some of the concepts that are so eloquently described in Chinese Medicine.
In Chinese Medicine, the tradition I trained in, we understand that the seasons have a deep effect upon us. The transition from winter to spring sees the bursting forth of new growth as the slumbering energy of winter is awakened. You only have to walk outside and see the previously bare trees covered with blossoms and leaves to bathe all your senses in this expansion of energy.
Spring is also the time of the renewal of hope, it bursts forward with optimism, offering change after the stillness of winter. It brings to life the potential inherent in each dormant seed. There is a sense that life is full of new possibilities as nature is expressing itself. The Chinese see spring as the time when the Liver energy is most buoyant, enabling us to bring about new ideas and growth, providing energy to move forward, to change who we are, to be assertive, to make decisions and to have vision and optimism for our future. Sounds like a party you don't want to miss out on doesn't it and here's the carrot; to allow spring to work its magic you need to consider how to make life easier for you Liver.
The Liver does the majority of detoxifying for the body, the idea with modifying your diet is to make life easier for the liver and reduce the effort it has to expend on daily cleaning up. If you do that the liver, fuelled by the energy of spring, can catch up on its mundane chores and when it does you'll feel energised, you'll sleep better, your digestion will work better, your skin and eyes will start to shine. Not only that you'll feel better emotionally and you'll more easily tap into the the expansive energy of spring, helping you move forward in your life.
The guidelines are simple and I'm borrowing them from Dr Sandra Cabot who wrote 'The Liver Cleansing Diet', and her website is a great resource for anyone wanting more information. My version of the guidelines are to:
- Replace meat with other protein sources such as pulses/tofu/nuts/seeds.
- Replace dairy with soy or nut milks and avoid cheese.
- Eliminate alcohol and coffee (or dramatically reduce your consumption).
- Reduce wheat (bread/cakes/pasta) and substitute with other grains (rice/corn/barley etc).
- Eliminate refined sugars, if you need a sweetener use honey sparingly.
- Eat more raw foods such as salads and vegetable juices.
- Try adding a 'green' supplement to your diet such as barley grass or spirulina.
- Drink more water.
I would suggest a four week program, one week of transition as you start to swap over from your normal diet to the new regime, and then two weeks of liver cleansing and then a week of reintroducing some of your regular foods. Its not a life sentence! You may even find your tastes have changed and you want to keep using some of the principles of the diet for the long term, either way even a modest 4 week program is enough to be a big help to your liver.
I hope you are inspired to try for yourself, if you are set a starting date, go shopping for anything you don't have in the house already and go for it. If you have any questions, advice or stories of your own please add them to this discussion for other to share or you can email me personally at email@example.com.
May Spring inspire you to live well!